Cruise & Maritime Voyages’ Vasco da Gama was on her way to Western Australia with hundreds of Australians onboard yesterday when the ship and its owners received a shock.

Without warning, WA State Premier Mark McGowan told a media conference the vessel, which has 798 Australians and 109 New Zealanders on board, would be allowed to land – but Australians would immediately be transported to Rottnest island for a 14-day enforced quarantine.

The New Zealanders and 550 crew would remain with the ship until transported home.

In a strongly-worded statement, Dean Brazier, Managing Director of Cruise & Maritime Voyages said:  “We would like to express our disappointment that the WA Premier did not inform us of this decision before sharing this news with the public, and that we were unable to inform our passengers before it appeared in media reports.

“At this stage, we have been advised that all passengers with an Australian residency, will be transported to Rottnest Island to spend 14 days in self-isolation before being allowed to continue with their onwards journey. At this time, passengers with an international residency will need to remain onboard Vasco da Gama until they can travel directly to their country of residence.”

Mr McGowan has taken a hard line with the cruise industry.

Five days ago, the WA Premier announced non-Australians arriving on cruise ships into the state will be forced to remain on board unless they have booked arrangements to fly home.

Two other cruise ships, the Artania and the MSC Magnifica, were being prevented from docking at Fremantle Port and had been told to anchor offshore, with illness reported on board the Artania.

Mr Brazier said that CMV are trying to confirm details of the WA Premier’s decision and the CMV team are working with the state and federal Australian Government, including Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and Australian Border Force (ABF), as well as Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) to resolve this.

“As CMV were not informed of this decision in advance,  we are only now beginning to notify passengers and their travel agents. We have followed all protocols to ensure a smooth arrival of Vasco da Gama into Fremantle, and have recorded no health issues with our guests who are on board,” he said.

“When they arrive, our guests will have been at sea for 13 days straight without disembarking the ship or being in contact with anyone who was not a guest or crew member of CMV, and we are disappointed that they will now have to wait a further 14 days until they can return home. We thank our guests and crew for their patience during this time, as we know this will be incredibly disheartening for them.”

Mr McGowan said of what he called “The Rottnest Option, in the last two days the state had cleared the island of visitors and made arrangements for accommodation, catering and security – suggesting his call on the CMV ship had been made in advance of today.